Gain personal authority

Master Sgt. Zachary Parish, 50th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant

Master Sgt. Zachary Parish, 50th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant



In life, especially military life, we are expected to fill numerous roles and fulfill a variety of responsibilities. This is apparent simply by looking at the Airman’s Creed. As if it were a job description, the Airman’s Creed lists roles we must carry out to ensure success on an individual level as well as an organizational level: warrior, guardian, sword, shield, sentry, avenger, wingman, leader and most importantly, American Airman. Failing to uphold expectations of being an American Airman while serving under Air Force Space Command has the potential to impact something greater than us as individuals and often will. As American Airmen, we are all expected to set high standards for ourselves, personally and professionally. This expectation is no different when fulfilling a role I haven’t mentioned yet: supervisor.

Serving as the 50th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant for the last 16 months, I have been exposed to more than 200 of the finest American Airmen seen in my 18 years of service. What impressed me most about my defenders was their ability to supervise and lead using personal authority. The supervisory experience I gained from serving in three other Air Force Specialty Codes taught me the most effective supervisors utilize personal authority more than their positional authority. The 50 SFS remains rooted in a military mindset, and most defenders are extremely proficient in the use of their positional authority. However, I have been pleased to see how caring and compassionate Schriever’s defenders are when it comes to the well-being of a fellow Airman. The personal leadership characteristics I witnessed from my defenders shattered all stereotypes, exceeded my expectations and set an example I believe all 50th Space Wing units should follow.

If you’ve been at Schriever Air Force Base long enough, you may know the 50 SFS had a significant amount of turnover across the ranks. I served three different squadron commanders during my tenure and the turnover will continue this week as I depart for a new assignment. Additionally, our security forces manager will retire this spring. These changes at the top levels of leadership will create uncertainty and trepidation for some. Fortunately, the 50 SFS is led by a superior leader in Lt. Col. Michael Speck and I am confident the unit will persevere. Speck possesses personal authority that has the unit’s morale at a high point and a core of leaders who will carry the unit forward in a positive direction while defending Schriever. I consider myself fortunate to have served as their first sergeant and will miss being part of the 50th Space Wing’s most professional military organization.

In closing, I believe all Airmen should strive to gain personal authority by being someone their subordinates can relate to and identify with. Personal authority, and the influence that comes from it, will have a greater positive impact on a relationship than rank worn on a uniform ever will. Taking a personal approach to supervision and leadership will encourage open communication, create a comfortable workcenter environment and help us all fulfill the numerous roles and responsibilities we have as American Airmen.